In Review: Dark Ark #8

This book should be required reading for horror enthusiasts.

The cover: The creatures within Shrae’s dark ark look skyward. Why they’re doing so isn’t revealed on this cover, but is shown withing the final few pages of this issue. To get all the monsters to respond in a like manner can only spell trouble. These creatures look almost sympathetic with their eyes looking sad and their mouths agape. Juan Doe has created a terrific cover that will leave the reader guessing its intent until it’s too late. Overall grade: A

The story: Before the flood, Avner tells this father he doubts that they’ll be able to finish the ark before the rain. Shrae says ominously, “Building the vessel is but one part of our task.” Among the volunteers that are building this ark, Shrae’s daughter spies her friend Janris. She wants to show her something, but Janris says there are too many people that need water and she is the one providing them relief. Relenting, Janris goes with her stopping only when Khalee points out all the weak and sick people who can’t work, but are asking her father to take their children to save them from the flood. “There’s only so much room on the ark. But…After what I found…They might not be so quick to send their children away with us.” The pair enter a cave that Khalee’s father uses as a workshop. Within are several tablets with the images of nightmarish creatures upon them. “I think these are the passengers my father truly wants. I think any human passenger we bring along might serve a different purpose.” This is a slick, sick callback to Janris’s position in the present. Cullen Bunn then moves his tale to the present where Shrae is being carried by one of his monsters to the location of the undersea behemoth that has been taking sacrifices from Noah’s ark. He’s there for a dialogue with the creature to try to convince it to leave the holy vessel alone. What comes from this conversation is some very ancient history. A deal is proposed but things quickly turn south, beginning a situation where chaos is left as the cliffhanger. I’m not supposed to be rooting for Shrae because of what he’s doing, but I do wonder how he’s going to get out of this situation. This was an excellent read as two characters try to find the middle ground on an unending sea. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: The first four panels of this book use diagonal close-ups to show the work being done. Having the panels be so small Juan Doe makes the action appear to be very rapid, and it should be since the rain will soon be falling. Notice how he uses harsh oranges to show the intensity of the actions. However, when the ark is shown the background for the sky is a cloudy mustard, aging the visual considerably. This is a neat way to date this tale. The uniform colors used for the mass of people who can’t work on the ark makes them a nameless throng whose fates are all but decided. When Khaless and Janris go into the cave orange from outside is used to light the space and notice it gives some good depth to the tablets they view. Echidna has almost the same coloring as the throng, though it’s a bit darker. This is a good use of colors to show despair, albeit two different sides of it, through coloring. The waters that the creature resides in are an icky pea green, suggesting that everything she touches grows ill. The double-paged splash on Pages 8 and 9 is an insane creation illustration that is the stuff of nightmares. Kruul continues to be the series most awesome looking character. He stands out not only for his design but his yellow colors that reinforce his Panthera leo qualities. When Echidna reveals herself fully she’s a wonder; she is feminine but also the ultimate monster. Her colors are equally strong, composed of crimsons and violets. Pages 18 and 19 are also a double-paged splash and Doe does an excellent job in showing the space to be confining; characters are too close together and the skeleton of the hold can be seen at the top of the illustration. Colors are also used well here, with violets showing darkness, but still allowing the reader to see the all that’s on the page. Overall grade: A 

The letters: The text for this issue is by Ryane Hill who creates scene settings, dialogue, monster dialogue, sounds, Echidna’s speech, and whispered dialogue. The wide variety of dialogues by Hill is a terrific way to show that not all speakers are of the same species: human speech looks different from the creatures, who have their own slight differentiations among themselves. I like that Echidna was given her own unique font, because her age, size, and power demand it. The sounds are also good; there should be some horrific looking sounds given the nature of the monsters in this book and this issue’s SKRREEEEEK is an outstanding one. Overall grade: A

The final line: Shrae has already made a deal with the devil, now he tries to deal with another. The introduction and justification for this new antagonist is excellent. The best compliment that can be given a writer is I have no idea how the protagonist can get out of the corner he’s been painted into. Bunn has created a foe for all humans to fear more immediately than the wrath of God. The visuals by Doe are also outstanding, showing monsters of all shapes and sizes with dazzling color work. This book should be required reading for horror enthusiasts. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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